'Doesn't make sense': Jobs and projects on the line as Government science agency attempts to cut costs

Government science agency Callaghan Innovation is proposing a 'strategic reset' to focus on projects that make money, which could see some of its 433 employees lose their jobs. 

In a document obtained by Newshub, the Government agency says it's 'facing significant cost pressures' and can't operate in its current form with its current funding. 

The science and research organisation says it'll focus on 'revenue generating, commercial science' which means uncertainty over some roles.  

Lucy Stewart, Co-President of the New Zealand Association of Scientists said the entire sector is struggling after numerous cuts. 

"We're seeing a series of cuts by stealth to a sector where we'd already cut away the fat and we're starting to hack off limbs," she says. 

"There is nowhere for these people to go, if they're not employed at Callaghan they will go overseas and we will lose that expertise, and once you lose science expertise and labs you're looking at decades to get it back." 

Assistant Secretary Fleur Fitzsimons said the Public Service Association is equally concerned.

"The drive for short term commercially-driven science is at the expense of public good science - it doesn't make sense," she said.

Callaghan Innovation's chief executive Stefan Korn said the agency is consulting with staff to seek feedback on the proposed changes. 

"Our immediate focus is to work with our staff to ensure we continue to deliver the services that help New Zealand innovators to thrive," Korn said. 

"While we are not consulting on a restructure at this time, a shift in strategy like this  inevitably means uncertainty for many of our people."

Meanwhile, the Public Service Association is taking aim at the Government. 

"We will lose our best and brightest if the government doesn't reverse this austerity agenda," Fitzsimons said. 

Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Judith Collins says Callaghan Innovation hasn't been directly asked make any cost savings.

"It is my expectation that the Board continues to ensure that Callaghan Innovation is financially sustainable into the future," she said.

"I intend to identify and implement changes that improve the efficiency of the entire science, innovation and technology sector with minimal disruption, while being cognisant of the fact we are operating in an extremely tight fiscal environment."